Nurses decide whether or not they want to be a union. The hospital has nothing to do with their decision. If the nurses want to be a union, they invite whichever union they want to come and represent them. Nurses at Columbia-Presby are represented by NYSNA (http://www.NYSNA.org
). Since it is the NURSES decision only, when a union and non-union hospital (or 2 hospitals with 2 different nurses unions) merge or a unionized hospital corp system acquires non-union facilities, the hospital or system cannot force the nurses at one of their facilities to become part of the other one's union. Only the nurses decide that themselves. Nurses at Cornell have not yet chosen to become a union.
As far as being "open to abuse", even at union hospitals management sometimes tries to get away with stuff. Thats why we have a clause in our NYSNA contracts that adresses Management Rights & abuse of those rights. The difference in being unionized is that as a union, you have recourse & a process to put a stop to the abuse and rectify any wrongs done to you. The employer does not get the last word or ultimate control. Having been a staff RN in both union and non-union facilities, I can tell you that I will never work non-union as a staff RN again. And personally, I think the best representatives of RNs are RNs, so if I have to look for another staff RN job, it will still be another one that has NYSNA as the representative.
Many RNs in NYC do take into consideration the kind ofunion they will have as representative when deciding on a new job.
If you look at some of the local journals, you'll see that hospitals even advertize that they have a "new NYSNA contract" or "RNs represented by NYSNA". They know its a recruiting tool that will catch the eye of experienced nurses, because when looking for a new job as a staff RN, many experienced nurses at facilities represented by NYSNA do make continued representation by NYSNA one of their deciding factors in which facility to choose. One reason is because we have staffing ratios & mandatory ot limits or bans in many of our contracts.
Another reason a lot of experienced NYSNA RNs will only consider another NYSNA hospital when looking for a new job is that they are able to stay in the excellent, nationally reknown, NYSNA pension plan - and can go to staff jobs from one NYSNA-represented facility to the next - without pension interruption, loss, or penalty. They would no longer have that benefit and would not be able to continue in the NYSNA union pension plan if they went to a non-NYSNA facility & were not in the union anymore.
Direct care nurses in this city are almost all unionized. The labor accomplishments of union nurses are improving things for even non-union nurses because those facilities that arent unionized have to keep up with us in order to stay competitive --- or lose their staff to union facilities. They are competitve in salary but we still have better contracts, better protections, and better benefits than non-union facilities.
In job hunting, compare salaries, differentials, reimbursements, benefits, pensions, medical, and also staffing ratios, forced overtime requirements, support staff availability. As a new grad, compare orientation programs and if any clinical support will be available to you - nursing educators, clinical specialists, preceptors, etc. These things are spelled out in NYSNA contracts & have been decided by the nurses and agreed to by management in a legally binding, guaranteed contract. Nothing can be changed without our input and approval. If the RNs say "no" - it doesnt happen. (ie: If the hospital wants to change our medical benefits and carrier and we dont want them to - they cant do it.) In non-union facilities, you get what they give you - until they dont want to give it anymore - & then its gone.
You have to look at the facility as a whole- their attitude towards their nursing staff, the support systems they offer new nurses and indications of how the nurses are valued & respected will give you an idea of what your working conditions will be like --- union or no union.